Questions tagged [shakespeare]

Questions relating to William Shakespeare, an English poet, playwright, and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist.

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Meaning of "office" as in "in the office of a wall"?

This precious stone set in the silver sea, Which serves it in the office of a wall, Or as a moat defensive to a house, Against the envy of less happier lands. — Richard II, William Shakespeare. What'...
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The word "new" may be an Adverb or an Adjective

I am trying to understand this sentence where the word 'new' can both be an adverb and also an adjective. Can someone please help me explain the ambiguous structure and the meaning conveyed in the ...
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"Will speak more in a minute than he will stand to in a month" - what does this "stand to" mean?

In Romeo and Juliet Act 2 Scene 4, Mercutio departs with Benvolio, leaving Romeo to speak with Juliet's nurse, whom Mercutio has mocked and insulted. Nurse asks Romeo who this rude and raucous fellow ...
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What does "a document in madness' exactly mean?

"A document in madness" A line of Laertes in Hamlet. And in my language, the word 'document' is translated as a lesson or message. I wonder if it is a liberal translation, or 'document' ...
1 vote
1 answer
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Did the accent in "without" shift from the first syllable to the second in the past?

To be sure, the line from William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, written in 1591, reads: There is no world with-OUT Verona walls. However, a passage in John Milton's Paradise Lost, written in 1667, ...
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5 votes
1 answer
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Was it common in Shakespeare's time for adverbial phrases and objects to precede the verb in spoken English?

I'm trying to come up with a list of differences between Shakespeare's manner of writing and modern English, and one of the big differences I've noticed is that Shakespeare often seems to put ...
5 votes
1 answer
526 views

What does "carry't" mean?

What does "carry't" mean? I can't find a definition for it on the web. Here's an example of its use from Shakespeare's Othello, the Moor of Venice: What a full fortune does the thick-lips ...
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What does "tenable" mean to Shakespeare?

Hamlet: If you have hitherto conceal'd this sight, Let it be tenable in your silence still, And whatsoever else shall hap to-night, Give it an understanding, but no tongue: Tenable seems a strange ...
2 votes
1 answer
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A Grammatical Question From A Text by Shakespeare- I couldn't understand- Please help

In Shakespeare's' As You Like It I have came across a challenging sentence. Without further ado, I am directly quoting the text: for call you that keeping for a gentleman of my birth that differs not ...
2 votes
1 answer
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"An" in Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew

In Act 1, Scene 1, Katherine says to Bianca, A pretty peat! It is best / Put finger in the eye, an she knew why". I understand "Put finger in the eye" means she is fake crying for ...
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3 answers
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What type of literary technique is the phrase 'star-crossed lovers' in 'Romeo and Juliet'?

My child has been asked this at school, and I suspect the teachers want the students to answer that it's a metaphor. However, I don't think it's a metaphor: surely Shakespeare, or at least the people ...
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1 answer
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Who coined "the eye of heaven"?

For the longest time I had always thought that Our great Bard had, with his poetic wonder, come up with "the eye of heaven" for his immortal, sonnet 18: Rough windes do ſhake the darling ...
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Did Shakespeare really coin "Alligator"?

I have read many essays on the heavily debated subject of just how many words Our immortal Bard coined. I think it is safe to say, some of the words (and phrases) which are credited to him are ...
2 votes
1 answer
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Whose misadventured piteous overthrows doth

The following is taken from the prologue of Romeo and Juliet. I'd like to know why the plural noun overthrows takes the third-person singular auxiliary doth. From forth the fatal loins of these two ...
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Shakespeare's dubious rhymes [duplicate]

Background I'm reading A Midsummer Night's Dream, and a lot of the dialogues and monologues are rhymes. But some times, these rhymes aren't rhymes at all. For instance So should the murder'd look, ...
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“Thou doth protest too much”: changed usage? [closed]

I remember reading somewhere that the original meaning “thou doth protest too much, methinks” is often used nowadays to take “protest” literally, but this changes its original meaning. I can’t seem ...
2 votes
1 answer
269 views

Shakespeare’s Subjunctive

Shakespeare’s Macbeth famously says, “If it were done, when ‘tis done, then ‘twere well it were done quickly,” which I rearranged, according to my understanding, as, “‘Twere well it were done quickly, ...
1 vote
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370 views

'MURDER" or "MURTHER" ? -- Question on when distinct (archaic) spellings for words were used and when not

Salutations, I am currently writing a play that is being regulated to the very distinct notions of authentically replicating the English language and its archaic spellings during its usage in London, ...
3 votes
2 answers
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What's the etymology of 'blank verse'?

Shakespeare uses a lot of blank verse. I get it that there's no proper rhyme scheme, but there is meter. Why is it called "blank"?
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Why does Shakespeare let two or more actors finish a pentameter?

To complete the number of syllables in a pentameter Shakespeare (and other contemporaries) let multiple actors say a verse, like shown in Macbeth Were two actors complete a pentameter: DUNCAN: As ...
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1 answer
204 views

Did Shakespeare use dactyls or dactilic meter?

While reciting "To be or not to be" recently, I discovered a rhythmic pattern that I hadn't really noticed before. At least to me, there seems to be quite a few dactyls, especially in the second half ...
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What does 'it' refer to in "come you more nearer than your particular demands will touch it"?

Apologies for the long title; I was led to understand it is better to be as specific as possible in titles, even if it makes them a little long. I'll edit it if people agree otherwise. In Shakespeare'...
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Why "him" in "For neuer resting time leads Summer on / To hidious winter and confounds him there, ..." instead of it or her?

There is a passage in William's V sonnet that confounds me : For neuer resting time leads Summer on, To hidious winter and confounds him there, Sap checkt with frost and lustie leau's quite gon. ...
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…down the primrose path

What is the origin of primrose used in the idiom primrose path, as defined by the Oxford Online Dictionary? primrose path The pursuit of pleasure, especially when it is seen to bring ...
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Why there is no article before "heire"? [duplicate]

The following passage is from All's Well That Ends Well: Shee is young, wise, faire, In these, to Nature shee's immediate heire: And these breed honour: According to the research I did on Cambridge ...
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Why, in A Midsummer Night's Dream, does "square" mean "quarrel"?

When referring to dictionaries, there seems to be no such meaning as "quarrel" under the word "square", only "in agreement". But in II 1 of A Midsummer Night's Dream, "square" in the following text ...
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1 answer
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Help understanding a sentence from "An Introduction to Mathematics", but it's about Shakespeare!

I'm reading Alfred North Whitehead's "An Introduction to Mathematics". I need help understanding a sentence at the beginning of the book: The study of mathematics is apt to commence in ...
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An expression, idiom, or phrase meaning "I lied" or "they are lying" or "to tell a lie", etc? [closed]

Looking for an expression, idiom, or phrase that would indicate a lie is being told, or was told, etc. I will not be using this phrase as part of a sentence, so I can't give an example. I just ...
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What does this Much Ado quote mean, "I can see a church by day light'?

I was reading through Act 2 Scene 1 of Much Ado About Nothing and I found this rather difficult to interpret because I am stuck between two meanings. LEONATO: Cousin, you apprehend passing shrewdly. ...
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3 answers
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What does "thrice-blessed" mean in "A Midsummer Night's Dream" Act 1 Scene 1? [closed]

There was a line in "A Midsummer Night's Dream" Act 1 Scene 1 that says: "... Thrice-blessèd they that master so their blood To undergo such maiden pilgrimage." (Theseus) So, ...
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How should I understand these lines from As You Like It?

I am currently on my second reading of As You Like It. I am having a really hard time comprehending lines 22-25 in Act 1, scene 2. Here are those lines as they appear in the version I am reading (The ...
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Shakespeare's “say sooth” vs. “tell truth”

The noun sooth, pronounced /suːθ/, is now archaic and means ‘fact’,‘reality’ and ‘truth’. Its legacy persists in the words soothe /suːð/, and soothsayer meaning someone who sees the truth, a synonym ...
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What is the meaning of, "Women thinking themselves as double-cherry"?

My question is about a sentence that I read in one of criticism of William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, it reads as follows: The relationship between Helena and Hermia is characterised by ...
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Shakespeare's omission of 'as' before 'single' in 'When sorrows come, they come not single spies...'

When Shakespeare wrote: "When sorrows come, they come not single spies, but in battalions", why didn't he put an "as" before "single spies"?
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Shakespeare's Macbeth "Conduct me to (mine) host" Mine host vs My Host

The first time I heard "mine host" in Shakespeare's Macbeth, I went to Wiktionary to see if it once was used instead of "my," however, I ended up with that it should not be followed by a noun but ...
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3 answers
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In Love's Labour's Lost, what does "spite of cormorant devouring time" mean?

In the opening statement of Love's Labour's Lost (Act 1 Scene 1), Ferdinand speaks of why he wants to make the oath to study and forgo base pleasures. He says Let fame, that all hunt after in their ...
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Early Modern English: Shakespearean Insult [duplicate]

I think many are familiar with the famous line from Shakespeare: Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate. What I seek to do is keep the analogy but change ...
1 vote
1 answer
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thou/you and art/are In Shakespeare's sonnets

Is there a consistent application of any distinction between the forms of the words thou and you, and art and are in Shakespeare's sonnets? Is he simply following a convention regarding formality in ...
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What is the origin of "sleep till I wake him"?

In King Lear, the phrase "If our father would sleep till I waked him" is used in Edmund's fake letter to Gloucester. Apparently it means "if our father were dead"[1][2]. What is the origin of the ...
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What sounds better My lovely Kellisa or the lovely kellisa [closed]

Am wrting a poem for a beautiful girl in my advanced English class and the last thing I want is for her to think I don't care about her (its freshman advanced English)
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Shakespeare Use of present tense narrating a past action

in Macbeth, Acte III -scene 6, In this portion of the scene: «  Lennox- Sent he to Macduff? Lord - He did, and with an absolute 'Sir, not I,' The cloudy messenger turns me his back, ...
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Shakespearean relative clause: "I have a brother is condemned to die"

In Measure for Measure 2.2.785, Shakespeare wrote the following sentence: I have a brother is condemned to die. I am wondering why he omitted the relative pronoun and left the helping verb. Isn't ...
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Using imaginary word "Hamletian" in AP Engish Literature annotated bibliography [closed]

I was considering creating the word "Hamletian," meaning "of Hamlet," for use in an annotated bibliography, because I like the sound of "Hamletian criticism" much more than "criticism of Hamlet." It ...
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How to explain the phrase of "Shakespeare’s trifling does indeed tread upon the very borders of vacancy"

All we then want is to proclaim a truce with reason, and to be pleased with as little expense of thought or pretension to wisdom as possible. This licensed fooling is carried to its very utmost length ...
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Word order: "dear my lord" in Shakespeare

I'm revisiting my old question [#167151]. The original question was about the word order: “dear my love” or “my dear love”. I hold a position that we say “my dear love”. But when I was saying a ...
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Was the "i" long or short in Shakespeare's plays?

In Queen Gertrude's short opening monologue the final two lines seem to have rhymed in Shakespeare's day: Good Hamlet, cast thy nighted colour off, And let thine eye look like a friend on Denmark....
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6 votes
1 answer
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Did 'lawyer' have a broader meaning in Shakespeare's time?

In Act 4, Scene 2 of Shakespeare's Henry VI, Part 2, Dick the butcher, one of Jack Cade's rebels, shouts: The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers. The rebels bring in the clerk of ...
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What is the meaning of this sentence in modern English?

It is a quotation of Hamlet in Act 5, Scene 2. If it be now, ’tis not to come. What will be the structure of this sentence in simple modern English? I am going to explain why it seems odd to me. ...
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1 answer
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"Opus magnum" of the English Language [closed]

While in Spanish we are taught that Cervantes’ Don Quixote is the defining work of literature of the Spanish language (not as a matter of opinion, but rather as a matter of Canon), I have heard ...
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Shakespearean way of speaking

Was the language used in Shakespeare's plays commonly used among people at that time in normal speech? I know that iambic pentameter was commonly used in formal, pre-prepared speeches at the time, but ...
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